HC Deb 21 June 1951 vol 489 cc676-8
3. Mr. Key

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the strength of the Civil Defence Corps and of the Auxiliary Fire Service in England and Wales on 31st May.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas)

The figures are 143,000 and 10,100 respectively. I will circulate the detailed figures in HANSARD.

Mr. H. Hynd

Does that represent a satisfactory improvement?

Mr. de Freitas

It is a steady improvement, but of course my right hon. Friend is not satisfied.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

Am I right in saying that recruitment in the rescue and pioneer sections is particularly unsatisfactory? Is the hon. Gentleman taking any special action to improve this position?

Mr. de Freitas

It is particularly unsatisfactory in those sections. We are looking into that matter.

Brigadier Prior-Palmer

How far does the number fall short of the number required?

Mr. de Freitas

It is between one-third and one-quarter of what we want.

Following are the figures:

Region Increase during May, 1951 Total Strength at 31st May, 1951 Strength per thousand of population
Eastern 713 16,730 5.45
Southern 495 13,849 5.23
South-Western 1,090 14,873 4.94
South-Eastern 409 11,065 4.32
Northern 546 10,410 3.31
Midland 571 13,136 2.97
Wales 220 7,525 2.90
North-Western 542 18,001 2.82
North Midland 293 9,416 2.73
London 656 19,740 2.34
North-Easten 262 8,448 2.05
5,797 143,193 Average for England & Wales 3.26
Increse during May. 1951 Total at 31st May,1951
208 10,072

12. Sir Ian Fraser

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress is being made in recruiting for Civil Defence.

Mr. de Freitas

The strength of the Civil Defence Corps in England and Wales was doubled in the last seven months. It is now 143,000 which is just over three per thousand of the population.

Sir I. Fraser

How far does that fall below the minimum necessary for safety?

Mr. de Freitas

As I said in reply to an earlier supplementary question, the provisional peace-time strength is between three and four times as high as that.

Brigadier Head

Are not the main obstacles to Civil Defence recruiting at the present time the absence of an age ceiling for liability to recall to the Services and the absence of a decision about recruitment to the Home Guard?

Mr. de Freitas

I do not agree with that. The subject has been dealt with on more than one occasion by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence and others, from this Box.

16. Squadron Leader Kinghorn

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many recruits for Civil Defence have been enrolled during the last six months in East Anglia.

Mr. de Freitas

In the Eastern Region 7,100, half of whom are in East Anglia proper, that is, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Squadron Leader Kinghorn

In view of the gratifying results which we naturally expect from East Anglia, would my hon. Friend say how those figures compare with the overall figures for the rest of the country?

Mr. de Freitas

The Eastern Region as a whole is top of the regions, but there is still room for an increase, especially in certain sections of the Corps.